Bella Barista
  • Coffee Forums RSS Feed

    by Published on 11-05-13 06:15  Number of Views: 1880 

    The review below is a summary of my thoughts and not intended to be a full in-depth analysis of each machine

    Today I had the pleasure of spending a delightful 4 hours at Bella Barista, hosted by Claudette and her team.

    The aim was to evaluate the R58 vs Alex Duetto Mk IV (aka new Alex Duetto III in the US) side-by-side and walk away with the winner.

    I had previously narrowed my search to replace my home machine to either of these dual boiler espresso machines.
    click to enlarge

    Also on the bench was the ECM Heidelberg espresso machine (HX), which I used to dial in the grinder (the Eureka Mignon) and pull reference shots on, for a coffee that I was familiar with.
    This machine was so forgiving and produced not only lovely espresso but some of the best milk I have steamed in a long time - a glossy paint finish which was perfect for latte art.
    I would have happily parted with £1099 if I was in the market for this type of machine.
    Of the 3 machines this had the best drip tray too, shallow and wide, with plenty of cup clearance and ample room to move cups around.

    I initially pulled shots using the stock basket before switching to a 20g VST basket for the evaluation of the R58 and Alex Duetto Mk IV.
    The same coffee, grinder, basket, portafilter, tamper and milk was used for all tests.

    The Rocket R58 was up next. The first shot ran a little too fast, so a tweak to the grind was required, and the next shot was sublime. Easily one of the cleanest espresso's I had tasted this year. You could pick out the individual flavours and the aroma was more intense than on the ECM. With a rotary pump the Rocket R58 was also quieter than the ECM. There was no 'whine' as reported on earlier models and the pressure was pretty steady - no flickering of the manometer needles at all.

    Both the Rocket R58 and the Alex Duetto Mk IV were set to the same service boiler temperature and held steady at 93c throughout the evaluation period.

    Changing the settings using the external controls on the R58 was easy and the interface is fairly intuitive, but I wasn't a fan of the coiled cable connecting the control box to the chassis, cluttering up the workspace. If you intend to 'set and forget' then this is not an issue.

    The Rocket R58 is a real looker and wins the beauty contest - but I wasn't judging beauty so tested the steam capability to see what I could achieve.
    Better than expected is how I would describe the steaming on the R58. Noticeably more powerful than the ECM the steam through the standard 2 hole steam tip was consistent and handled different volumes of milk with ease. My second jug was the best from this session. I would have liked to spend more time adjusting steam boiler pressure to see how the different increments affect the milk. This however would be best achieved when I could focus on the one machine.

    The shots and milk I enjoyed would have justified the £600 price difference between these machines.
    After spending 20 minutes on the machine, tweaks and changes to the grind produced some lovely looking (and tasting) espressos and my wife was starting to feel the effects of the coffee.
    We took a quick break and Claudette roasted some Tanzanian coffee on the Gene Café roaster. I was genuinely surprised at how little smoke there was. My wife was showing a lot of interest in the Gene Café roaster as well, which is encouraging! Although for the time being I'm quite happy to let the experts roast and discover the fruits of their labour.

    After a pint of water later and a quick tour of the Towability factory next door it was time to evaluate the Alex Duetto Mk IV. I pulled a shot on the R58 then tried to replicate on the Duetto.
    A minor tweak to the grind was required (again a fraction finer) and the resulting shot was excellent - with more crema and viscosity than on the R58.

    I had to check this was no fluke and pulled several more in quick succession - each tasting the same - rich and silky smooth. I could have had another but needed to evaluate the steaming capability so set about preparing my milk jug. The Alex Duetto Mk IV steam is very dry. Plenty of power behind it and that's with the no-burn steam arm insert still in. I have been told by a couple of owners that I spoke to earlier this month that one of the first mods to make after getting to grips with the machine is to remove the tube - giving you even more steam power.

    However, putting aside those thoughts I gave the steaming a shot. I hadn't expected such power and too many bubbles were created. Starting afresh I adjusted the angle and depth and turned the steam knob. Not as easy as the R58 but I'm glad that no 'radiator tap' retrofits have been made as some distributors in the US have done. This jug was pretty good and I could see what to do to make the next one even better. Several small adjustments later (this biggest change to me was steaming on the left instead of on the right like I'm used to) and I could produce lovely milk time after time. I still have a way to go but already notice an improvement on my previous technique.

    So, the Alex Duetto Mk IV was producing nicer espresso than the R58 and milk every bit as nice as the ECM. Although I think the R58 has the edge in milk steaming (that is until I remove the no burn steam arm and evaluate again)

    The R58 won on looks and had better cup clearance than the Duetto. However removal of the drip tray was not as smooth on the R58 compared to the Duetto (which also holds more water / liquid).

    The rotary pump on the Alex Duetto Mk IV was even quieter than the R58. I hadn't anticipated the difference would be so tangible.

    By this stage I had written out the cheque in my mind, and nearing the edge of my caffeine tolerance levels (I think I pushed them a little today) decided upon the Alex Duetto Mk IV as my new home espresso machine. After informing Claudette of my decision all that remained was to choose the box from the stock room and get the machine bench tested.

    The bench testing process was very thorough and Bella Barista's techie Jordan ran me through the PID settings and set the defaults based on testing undertaken by their reviewer. The factory defaults are also provided for future reference.

    After the great service provided of loading the machine into the car, carrying an awkwardly shaped 44kg+ box containing the machine and accessories up 3 flights of stairs by yourself isn't fun. But after mounting the feet and warming up the machine, pulling a shot was the best reward.
    by Published on 22-04-13 09:34  Number of Views: 1514 

    Press release: London, 22 April 2013 – In an inspiring collaboration across the nation, leading coffee chains, independents, workplaces and coffee-loving consumers will unite this week for UK Coffee Week™, an annual charitable programme and the biggest ever celebration of coffee.

    From 22–28 April 2013, coffee chains including Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Caffè Nero, Debenhams Cafés and Restaurants, Muffin Break, Pod and Soho Coffee Co will be joined by other chains, hundreds of independent coffee shops and workplaces across the country to support and fundraise for Project Waterfall. With the tag line of ‘THE POWER OF COFFEE’, this charitable initiative works in partnership with WaterAid to provide life-changing clean drinking water projects to some of the poorest communities in African coffee-growing countries.

    Ian Cranna, Vice President, Marketing and Category, Starbucks UK said: “This is a fantastic week where coffee companies in the UK can come together and make a real difference as an industry. We are passionate about improving the lives of coffee growing communities around the world, and we are very proud to be supporting UK Coffee Week this year and helping to raise money for Project Waterfall.”

    Kevin Hydes, Marketing Director of Costa Coffee said: "Costa is delighted to be supporting UK Coffee Week again this year and helping to raise awareness for Project Waterfall. We’re proud to work in the thriving UK coffee industry and value the life-changing difference that Project Waterfall is making to some of the poorest communities in African coffee-growing countries.”

    Jeffrey Young, Chairman of the Allegra Foundation and Founder of UK Coffee Week added: “We are thrilled that the coffee industry to rallying to support UK Coffee Week again this year. The initiative is extremely unique and important and together we can continue to provide life-changing clean water projects in Tanzania, where Project Waterfall is currently focused.”

    During UK Coffee Week, UK coffee lovers will be able to show their support and donate to Project Waterfall in thousands of coffee shops across the country, in their workplace as part of [email protected] (the workplace component of UK Coffee Week proudly sponsored by Kenco Milicano), on Twitter and Facebook using @UKCoffeeWeek and #powerofcoffee and through JustGiving.

    Visit to find out more information about participating venues and ways to support Project Waterfall.
    by Published on 27-03-13 07:51  Number of Views: 1389 

    Date: Wednesday 24th April 2013

    This is an introductory course that covers key concepts surrounding green coffee from growing the plant, through processing, shipping and storage to arrival at a roastery. The session is ideally suited for people new to the coffee industry or those looking to gain an insight into the broad- subject matter of green coffee. This course covers the full content of the CDS module ‘Foundation Green Coffee’.

    Successful students will be awarded 5 points towards the SCAE Coffee Diploma.

    Trainer: John Thomson

    Timing: 12 noon – 16.00

    Includes practical, written exam and certification fee.

    Special introductory price (due to beta test of this course)
    £130.00 per delegate (non-member of SCAE)
    £65.00 per delegate (member of SCAE)

    Venue: London School of Coffee

    2 Princetown Mews,
    KT2 6PT

    Please contact Julie Barwick:
    [email protected] to make a booking
    by Published on 26-03-13 10:20  Number of Views: 738 

    Luna Blue, The Forefront Of Coloured Cup Fashion

    These high quality porcelain coffee cups are perfect for daily use in busy cafe’s and coffee bars.

    We have listened to our customers that love the Luna white range on shape, size and durability but want to stand out from the crowd.
    The new Luna Blue range is extremely modern and certainly will strike up interest in any coffee shop.

    By adding your logo to these cups, you will be at the forefront of coloured cup fashion and bang on trend.

    Emma Massingham, Lucky 13, Brighton
    “We loved the bright blue colour – far more interesting than boring white cups. They match our décor and the style appeals to our customers. Luckily Quickfire had stock and were able to supply them in time for our opening”.
    Coffee Cups started in 2001 with the intention of supplying bespoke crockery and glassware with no minimum order quantity. We wanted our customers to order the exact quantity they needed when they needed it.

    In order to offer this great service we invested in the latest kiln technology and built up deep stocks of all our advertised products. Since these beginnings we have expanded our range and now stock the widest selection of coffee cups available in the UK.

    In 2005, we purpose built our factory and offices in Sheffield. This has enabled us to increase our production capacity and our stock holding, further improving the speed of our no minimum order quantity service.

    In 2011 we opened our print shop to screen pint customer logos. By bringing all logo production in house we have reduced our lead times and increased our ability to produce small orders cost effectively.

    The company is still owned and managed by the founders, Kate and Simon Martin. Our expert team are always on hand to deal with your enquiry, whether you are searching for cups to start a coffee shop, or wanting to place a repeat order. Continuity is our watchword - continuity of product design, quality and service.
    by Published on 24-03-13 05:40  Number of Views: 654 

    SCAE UK Chapter and UK Coffee Events are pleased to announce the running order for Regional Heat 4 hosted by Café Trade Ltd at
    Chester Racecourse – on 31 March and 01 April 2013
    Book your tickets to the Chester Food, Drink and Lifestyle Show online and please bring along coins for donation to our chosen charity Coffee Kids
    Follow this event on Twitter @scaeuk @cafetrade or @ukbc and via the hashtags #ukbcht4 and #ukbc2013
    The 2013 UK Barista Championships Regional Heat 4 Entrants are
    31 March 1010 Jordon Keen
    31 March 1035 Chee Wong
    31 March 1100 Alex Bromley
    31 March 1125 Mike Blair
    31 March 1150 Jose Melim
    31 March 1215 Gareth Jones
    31 March 1240 Hannah Davies
    31 March 1305 Nicholas Collins
    31 March 1355 Dan Fellows
    31 March 1420 Don Altizo
    31 March 1445 Michael Ryan
    31 March 1510 Gayan Munaweera
    31 March 1535 Simon Glover
    31 March 1600 Justyna Staciwa
    31 March 1625 Sean Baines
    31 March 1650 Kasparas Alisauskas
    01 April 1010 Mags Bee-Quigley
    01 April 1035 Andy Delooze
    01 April 1100 Martin Ball
    01 April 1125 Aaran Thornton
    01 April 1150 Matthew Carter
    01 April 1215 Darryl Docherty
    01 April 1240 Catherine O’Shea
    01 April 1305 Joseph Beaver
    01 April 1355 Shaun Young
    01 April 1420 Wes Bond
    01 April 1445 Connor Bramley
    01 April 1510 Rory Lloyd
    01 April 1535 Gareth Kemble
    01 April 1600 David Jones
    01 April 1625 Liam Ward
    Times are subject to change at short notice. Please get there early to support your local barista!
    by Published on 20-03-13 11:19     Number of Views: 1969 

    Coffee Diploma System
    Sensory and Cup Tasting Foundation level course

    Date: Friday 5th April 2013

    This course covers the essentials of sensory evaluation. You will learn the way we perceive what we taste and how to apply it to the evaluation of coffee’s intrinsic characteristics. Secondly, you will get started with the identification of specialty coffee qualities and gain an overview on how to implement it in your business.

    Trainer: John Thomson

    Timing: 12 noon – 16.00

    Includes practical and written exam and certification fee. A light sandwich lunch will be offered from 11.30 a.m.
    Special introductory price (due to beta test of this course) £130 per delegate (non-member of SCAE)
    £65 per delegate (member of SCAE)

    Venue: Masteroast, Peterborough

    Masteroast has a dedicated training area for presentations, coffee blend development, coffee cupping, roasting demonstrations, hosting courses and competitions.

    Plantation House, Newark Rd, Peterborough, PE1 5UA
    01733 842 000

    Please contact Julie Barwick: [email protected] for bookings and enquiries
    by Published on 02-03-13 02:33  Number of Views: 2481

    La Marzocco and Allegra Events Ltd. are thrilled to announce the full line-up for the True Artisan Café, a collaborative pop-up coffee shop taking place at The London Coffee Festival between 25-28 April 2013.

    For four days only the True Artisan Café will bring together baristas from some of the UK’s most inspired independent coffee shops and roasters to serve visitors bespoke coffee creations.

    Returning favourites include East London coffee-shop-come-cocktail-bar Shoreditch Grind, legendary Caravan (who have just opened their second café-roaster concept in Kings Cross) and antipodean coffee specialists Allpress Espresso.

    New additions to the line-up are Square Mile, co-founded by former World Barista Champion James Hoffman; leading West Midlands roaster Has Bean Coffee and coffee-cycling enthusiasts Rapha Cycle Club.

    Visitors will be invited to meet London’s best baristas, sample bespoke coffees and cocktails, listen to live DJs and learn how to make professional coffee.

    Last year saw all baristas taking part go the extra mile to create special drinks for the visitors of The London Coffee Festival. From ‘Café Corretto’, a double Blawan espresso with a dash of amaretto served in mini cortado size to ‘The Layer Cake Martini’, which took first place in the UK and runner-up in the World ‘Coffee in Good Spirits 2010’ competition.

    Other featured speciality drinks were the elegantly named ‘Plum’ using Has Bean coffee, enhanced with a plum reduction and served in a shot glass; ‘Popcorn Coffee’, made from Araku coffee, with the addition of popcorn-infused milk, homemade caramel and a pinch of salt and an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe espresso from the Tumticha cooperative served as single shot of espresso combined with an ice cube infused with Earl Grey tea and honey.

    Baristas from 33 different coffee shops and roasteries have been selected to take over the True Artisan Café on La Marzoccos festival stand, for a three hour slot each. The complete line-up can be found online at

    The True Artisan Café will be raising money for Project Waterfall, the clean water initiative delivering clean water projects in African coffee-producing countries, by asking all visitors to make a donation to the charity rather than buying their drink.
    by Published on 17-02-13 08:05  Number of Views: 1198 

    SCAE UK Chapter and UK Coffee Events are pleased to announce the running order for Regional Heat 3 hosted by Butterworth & Son at
    The Apex – 1 Charter Square, Bury St Edmunds IP33 3FD – on 05/06 March 2013
    Visitor entry is free - but please bring along coins for donation to our chosen charity Coffee Kids
    Follow this event on Twitter @scaeuk @butterworthsuk or @ukbc and via the hashtags #ukbcht3 and #ukbc2013

    The 2013 UK Barista Championships Regional Heat 3 Entrants are

    05-Mar 1010 Yann Chalmers
    05-Mar 1035 Dhan Bahadur Tamang
    05-Mar 1100 Mario Kassa
    05-Mar 1125 Magda Grzelka
    05-Mar 1150 Sandra Ebassa Ongbiteke
    05-Mar 1215 Tomas Bruckus
    05-Mar 1240 Davide Pastorino
    05-Mar 1305 Guillaume Le Coz
    05-Mar 1355 Alex Sargeant
    05-Mar 1420 Jarunee Thanasawasdeechaiyakul
    05-Mar 1445 James Franklin
    05-Mar 1510 Marta Twardygrosz
    05-Mar 1535 Estelle Bright
    05-Mar 1600 David Caple
    05-Mar 1625 Ash Bookluck
    06-Mar 1010 Mark Pooley
    06-Mar 1035 Alessandro Bonuzzi
    06-Mar 1100 Ben Cox
    06-Mar 1125 Laura Holmes
    06-Mar 1150 Edita Chordacevic
    06-Mar 1215 John Gordon
    06-Mar 1240 Barry Cook
    06-Mar 1305 Norman Ciemala
    06-Mar 1355 Nerijus Latakas
    06-Mar 1420 Will Corby
    06-Mar 1445 Benjemyn Deyn

    Times are subject to change at short notice. Please get there early to support your local barista!
    Volunteer positions are available by registering on
    by Published on 16-02-13 04:04  Number of Views: 712 

    SCAE UK Chapter and UK Coffee Events are pleased to announce the results for Regional Heat 2 hosted by Pumphreys Coffee at Life Science Centre - Newcastle

    On Friday 15 and Saturday 16 February, 24 baristas from across the UK competed over 2 days in front of a good crowd.

    Newcastle upon Tyne based barista Joe Meagher from Flat Caps Coffee scooped 3 awards; Best Signature Drink, Best Cappuccino and Overall Winner of 2013 UK Barista Championships Regional Heat 2.

    Steve Dyson from Spring Espresso in York - a 4th time UKBC entrant - took second place just ahead of fellow York barista Nicola Peacock from The Perky Peacock.

    Nicola also picked up the award for Union Hand-Roasted Best Newcomer at this heat.
    The ‘Union Hand-Roasted Coffee Best Newcomer’ will be announced at the London finals of the 2013 UK Barista Championships.

    Union Hand-Roasted barista trainer Chris Walton (@espressochris) received the award for Best Espresso.

    The Top 20 leaderboard has been updated on to reflect the results from this regional heat.

    Congratulations to all baristas who took part and thank you to all volunteers, judges and the Sanremo UK road crew for helping to stage this successful event.

    Regional Heat 3 is set to be hosted by Bury St Edmunds based coffee roasters Butterworth & Son and will take place at the apex – Bury St Edmunds – on 05/06 March.

    Andrew Tucker – Managing Director of Sanremo UK said ahead of Heat 3: “It's great to be working alongside enthusiastic hosts like Butterworth & Son. The effort and professionalism they are approaching this event with is exciting. The venue (the apex in Bury St Edmunds) is fantastic and Rob is so tuned into the buzz around the UKBC. This is undoubtedly going to be one of the real highlights of this year's competition.”

    For further information and news updates visit or follow us on Twitter @scaeuk or @ukbc
    by Published on 16-02-13 04:01  Number of Views: 1330 

    Expowest Westcountry Exhibition – owned and run by Hale Events Ltd was the host of Regional Heat 1 of the 2013 UK Barista Championships.

    9 baristas competed in this Exeter based heat, with 8 being awarded points towards the rolling Top 20 leaderboard published on

    Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood (Colonna & Smalls – Bath) UKBC 2012 winner and 6th placeholder at the 2012 World Barista Championships - carried his form to take top honours and win this heat with 588.5 out of a possible 840 being awarded.

    Not far behind was 2007 UK Barista Champion Hugo Hercod (Relish – Wadebridge (Cornwall))

    2010 / 2011 UK Barista Champion John Gordon (Square Mile Coffee Roasters – London) is competing in Regional Heat 3 taking place at Bury St Edmunds, making this the first time 3 previous UKBC winners have competed in the same year.

    Andrew Tucker, Managing Director of Sanremo UK (Official Machine sponsor of the UK Barista Championships) said: “This year's competition is off to a really exciting start. With two previous champions competing in the first heat, the bar has been set high for others. Interestingly, we have noticed that some competitors have left the portafilters out of the machines for a prolonged period. The Sanremo Verona TCS ensures the temperature control is the most stable it has ever been in this contest, so it suggests a tactical move by some baristas to lower the temperature intentionally to work with their competition coffee. It hints that this may be the most competitive UKBC yet.”

    Photographers Ben Tyler ( and Laurent Rickling ( were on hand to capture the action and their photographs can be seen on the SCAE UK Chapter Flickr stream

    The regional heats are being held in Exeter, Newcastle, Bury St Edmunds and Chester. The top scoring baristas from the regional heats will go through to the finals, which will be held at The London Coffee Festival (25th – 28th April 2013). One of them will be crowned 2013 UK Barista Champion and go on to compete in the World Barista Championship in Melbourne, Australia (23rd – 26th May 2013).

    For further information and news updates visit or follow us on Twitter @scaeuk or @ukbc

    Page 10 of 19 FirstFirst 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
  • Tweet Stream

  • Coffee Photos

Decent Espresso

Important Site Information

Google Analytics Alternative